Bang Pop Thai - Chef Kam

On a recent trip to Melbourne I decided to hit up the Twitter peeps to see what people were recommending for a great dinner. Time and again Bang Pop Thai, on the South Wharf Promenade, came back as the place of choice. Authentic Thai street food sounded awesome and it was just over the Yarra from our Docklands office. So the guys at Bang Pop kindly booked me a bar seat and I brought one of my new team.

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As an Irish-decendent from Boston, where roasted meat and potatoes are the norm, authentic Thai food is as foreign as cheering for the Yankees.  But I've had the chance to try different tastes and flavours around the world over the last ten years and after our trip to Thailand for a wedding last year I've become a huge Thai food fan. I love the combinations of salty, sweet, spicy, and sour and the friendliness of the people only topped things off.

We started with a couple fantastic starting dishes but quickly set our sights on the jungle curry. Even though four different staff warned us (waiter, bartender, chef, host) we dove in. And we loved it! Just gorgeous.

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In any way, I became a huge fan. And recently I connected with Chef Kam on Twitter and I went out on a limb to see if he'd do a guest blog for us. How lucky was I when he agreed straightaway! So, without further ado, here's his recipe for my fav, the jungle curry. If you're in Melbourne, you'd be foolish to not make it over their way asap.

Thanks, Chef Kam.

Gaeng bpaa kai - Chef Kam's Recipe

Jungle curry of chicken

4-5 portions

Bpaa Paste

  • 20 gm dried long red chilli
  • 150 gm dried scud chilli
  • 160gm galangal
  • 200 gm lemongrass
  • 20 kaffir lime leave
  • 300 gm garlic
  • 70gm shrimp paste
  • 100 ml veg oil
  • 200-250 gm sliced chicken breast per portion
  • 200-300gm shredded young bamboo
  • 50-100 gm dry weight wood ear fungus- rehydrated
  • 200-300 gm cleaned and batoned  snake beans
  • 2 cups thai basil-picked
  • 1 lt chicken stock
  • 50 ml water
  • 50gm palm sugar
  • 50-100 ml fish sauce
  • 100 ml veg oil

Soak the chillis in boiling water until soft (30 min). In a food processor (we use a pacojet "lucky bastards - GM") break down the in ingredients hardest to softest. You should achieve a fine paste.

Dissolve the palm sugar in to the water

Slowly cook out the curry paste in the veg oil, it will become aromatic and darken slightly 10-12 mins.

Add your stock, chicken, bamboo and mushrooms, bring to the simmer and cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Add your basil and snake beans and let sit for one minute.

Adjust the curry with the palm sugar and fish sauce until you get a balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet.

Enjoy!

Bang Pop Thai

ADDRESS:

Bangpop Melbourne
35 South Wharf Promenade
(off Dukes Walk),

South Wharf, VIC 3006

 

 

MoVida Next Door - Tapas Heaven!

Part two of our recent trip to Melbourne was a drop into MoVida Next Door. There are a couple restaurants in the MoVida franchise in Melbourne but Next Door is by far our favourite. It's nearly impossible to get into on a Saturday evening but it's definitely worth a try - and you can usually get a seat for most lunch services.

The restaurant is located at the corner of Flinders St and the famous Hosier Lane. Check it out during the day to see all the interesting and cool graffiti. I don't think I've ever walked down the lane and not seen a couple people with cameras snapping shots.

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First up, wet the whistle with a cool Moritz. I am definitely looking forward to a few of these during our upcoming Spain trip! 

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Next Door's menu consists of a set of options from their conservas (tinned tapas), tapas, and raciones (to share) dishes. There are also a myriad of other specials that you can choose from - almost all are fantastic. Our first dish was a couple boquerones, which are white anchovies on a crouton with roasted cherry tomato.

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Next was my personal favourite, the bocadillo de chorizo. It's a chorizo and pickled pepper sandwich. It also has a garlic mayonaise. It can be messy but it is seriously the tastiest sandwich I've had in ages! 

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The conservas range consists of a number of tinned tapas options. I've seen an episode recently of "No Reservations" and Tony Bourdain was in northern Spain where he raved about the tinned tapas he was served. These are seriously fantastic and are sure to become a staple in our house. It's hard to choose just one but we enjoyed the mejillones, which are mussels in a Galician (spicy) sauce with pickled garlic and crusty bread. 

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To finish up, we enjoyed a couple bombas, which are a potato ball filled with chorizo and Catalan spicy sauce. They were great and also a bit filling.

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If you're ever in Melbourne I highly recommend a visit to MoVida Next Door. It's pretty easy to rack up a big bill with all the variety on offer but you can't come much closer to a top tapas bar from Spain than this small, busy, slice of heaven in the Melbourne CBD. 

Attica! Amazing...

Last January I had the privilege of attending a cooking class with Ben Shewry at Sydney Seafood School. Ben is the head chef at one of Australia's leading restaurants, Attica, which is number 63 of the top restaurants in the world (it was number 53 last year). Since that class I have been dying to get to Attica to try the variety of amazing dishes Ben creates from local produce and foraged ingredients. So since I'm spending time in Melbourne every week we decided to make a weekend of it and get a table. We weren't disappointed!

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So, here's the menu from the night. As you can see, this isn't your traditional top-end, high priced, generic restaurant. They put real love and care into ensuring they are using unique, underused, or underappreciated local produce, herbs, and spices (Begonia leaves, anyone?).

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I won't go through each and every dish as it was quite an adventure. While the "Crab, Shiitake, and Twelve Basils", "Marron and Fermented Corn", and "Fresh Curd Ice Cream and Blueberries" were fantastic, it's the five dishes in the middle of the menu that really stood out for us. Now, the only drawback to the entire night was that our waiter had a thick accent (we couldn't tell from where) so my understanding of the ingredients in each dish is lacking. But who cares? That's the mystery in amazing food! Here are my favourites from the night:

  • "A Simple Potato Dish in the earth it was grown" - this is the chef's signature dish and it shows. The small potato is wrapped and then cooked in earth for five hours to give it a delicate texture and smoky flavour. It is then placed on a bed of goat's curd with spices and saltbush. Definitely a highlight
  • "Cucumbers, Sauce Burnet, and Dried River Trout" - after being blown away by a simple potato dish, we were further impressed by the depth of flavour and complexity presented in another simple vegetable dish. I know "caring for your ingredients" can be a bit of a cliché these days, what Ben has done with young cucumbers here is amazing
  • "King George Whiting in Paperbark" - this was my favourite dish of the night. The fish has been slow cooked in paperbark and covered in a beautiful sauce and topped with a scallop like mince (did I say our waiter had an accent?)
  • "Flinders Island Wallaby, Scorched Macadamia, Ground Berry" - this dish was very unique in that I've never had wallaby before. I've had kangaroo before but this was milder and more subtle. I have to say, though, only Australians could enjoy eating an animal from their coats of arms (kangaroo) and the mascot from their national rugby team (wallaby). The wallaby was presented medium rare on top of two purées - macadamia and wallaby blood sausage. Trust me, it was simply fantastic
  • "Plight of the Bees" - the final dish of the night was a play off of different types of honeys and textures. A melon honey is topped with fennel granita and then meringue and a thin slice of pumpkin, topped with freeze-dried apple. It was a unique mixture but a fitting way to end such a complex and pleasing meal

Now, here's a tip when you're there in the evening. If they ask if you'd like to take a break between the main dishes and desert take it! They can then take you to the garden in the back and you can stroll through all the amazing plants and herbs that they are growing, including twelve different types of basil! They even had a couple coconut marshmallows for us to roast in their open fire. What an experience!

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And we ended the night with a surprise, a painting of Pukeko birds that Ben's dad created in their native New Zealand. This was concluded with a little chocolate surprise, a mock Pukeko egg that's filled with condensed milk. I had one back at the seafood school and just as good as I remember.

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So, if you're ever in Melbourne and want to taste food like no other, find time to get to Attica. My recent book, "Where Chefs Eat" rate it as a place worth the travel from anywhere in the world so I have two words for you - get there!

Now if I can only get Ben to write a guest blog...